College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Mathematics

Thirty-First Annual T.G. Ostrom Lecture

Iwan Alexander

Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 7:30pm

Todd Hall 130

"Our Energy Future"

Fundamental to human condition, how we extract and distribute energy will determine our (humankind) future quality of life. The cost and accessibility of energy has become a topic discussed throughout the world. It is vital to our existence, and essential to the economic health of so many countries. No matter where, quality of life, prosperity and security are closely linked to the cost and accessibility of energy. Motivated by exciting energy research and development ongoing in universities and laboratories across the country I will present a global and local view of energy today, energy research that aspires to meet the challenges in the future. While fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal will continue to play a critical role in meeting near-term energy demands, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass will play increasingly important roles. The challenges are to diversify our energy portfolio by making advances that will reduce the cost of renewable power, increase its reliability and ease of integration into the power supply system. In particular, I will focus on needed advances in electrical power, and new or improved technologies for its generation, storage transmission and use. Finally, I will conclude with a discussion of alternative scenarios for future energy generation and use based on existing and developing energy technology and anticipated energy policies across the globe. I will leave you with the suggestion that, in the future, our local choices of energy generation will, to a large extent be dictated by geographic location and that emerging alternative energy technology in the US will strengthen our global competitiveness.


Dr. Alexander received his PhD from Washington State University in 1981 and is now the Cady Staley Professor of Engineering and Chair of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. Since 2007 he has been the faculty director of CWRU’s Great Lakes Energy Institute. Dr. Alexander’s research interests cover a number of topics that include computational fluid dynamics, wind turbine aeroacoustics and wake dynamics, wind farm layout optimization, the physics and mechanics of fluid interfaces, multiphase flow and transport, crystal growth and solidification. This work has produced over a 120 refereed papers. For the last fifteen years his research has included theoretical studies, computational simulations and experiments, particularly those processes associated with materials preparation and also with fluid surface dynamics. He was also involved with 5 space experiments, three involving semiconductor crystal growth, one liquid diffusion experiment and an acceleration measurement experiment. Dr. Alexander serves on a number of national committees, is an AIAA associate fellow and has chaired two Gordon Research Conferences (Gravitational Effects in Physical-Chemical Systems and Thin Film and Crystal Growth Mechanisms), and is internationally recognized for his work on microgravity fluid processes. From 2005-2010 he was director of the National Center for Space Exploration Research (NCSER), a research center located at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. At the NCSER he was directly involved in implementing the center’s vision to become a focal point for fluids and combustion research on fluid and transport processes in space exploration technologies and advanced human support systems under weightless and reduced gravity to provide a knowledge base for the design of future space exploration systems and technologies. Dr. Alexander was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal in August 2008. Under his leadership Case Western Reserve University established the ‘Great Lakes Institute for Energy Innovation’ in 2007. The purpose of the institute is to develop, through farsighted energy research and energy-use strategies, innovative energy technology platforms that will provide low cost, reliable and sustainable energy.

Current Research Interests and Experience

  • Wind Farm dynamics/algorithms for optimal wind turbine placement in a wind farm.
  • Computational simulation of wind turbine acoustic noise generation
  • Electrical currents produced by fluid interactions with multiwalled aligned carbon nanotube arrays
  • Dynamics of two phase miscible and immiscible fluids
  • Dynamics and static behavior of fluid surfaces and interfaces
  • Simulation of bone growth using Monte-Carlo techniques

Ostrom Events

Wednesday 3/21/12

Where: Todd Hall 130
"Our Energy Future"

Join us for refreshments with Dr. Alexander afterwards in Neill Hall 216 (Hacker Lounge)


Please note that the colloquium and refreshment time have been changed for today - Thursday, March 22, 2012.
Department of Mathematics, PO Box 643113, Neill 103, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-3113 Phone: 509-335-3926 Fax: 509-335-1188 Contact Us